If you want to be a strong leader in any capacity, it would be wise to start crafting your leadership development plan.
Where do you want to be a better leader? Perhaps it’s at home with your kids. Or maybe you’re looking for a promotion at work. Or maybe you just want to be a stronger role model in your community… Wherever you want to be a leader, you can – as long as you’ve got the passion as well as the ability to reflect, learn, and grow.
Your leadership development plan begins with an assessment of who you are and who you want to be. When targeting areas for this step, try to just pick two or three to start with. Some actions we take will have a more broader-reaching impact, and will accelerate our growth more quickly than others. Choose a couple of areas that you really feel are priorities. You can always add on to the list and increase the complexity of your plan later.
As possible goal areas, consider any and all ideas that come to you through your ongoing self-reflection. And think about where you can begin to practice your leadership skills: what non-threatening situations can you identify to practice on a small scale? – It’s really about flexing the muscles and developing smaller habits that lead to new ways of being.
Also be creative when thinking about the supports you need to help with your leadership growth. Perhaps a manager or mentor can help create leadership opportunities for you. Maybe there’s a training course you can sign up for at work or in your community…
Remember that it’s important to be flexible in your thinking when creating and acting on your leadership development plan. In order to grow, we need to do some things differently than we have in the past!
Here are a few quotes I like to serve as food for thought in this regard:
“He that is good with a hammer tends to think everything is a nail.” – Abraham Maslow
“The most damaging phrase in the language is: ‘It’s always been done that way.’” – Rear Admiral Grace Hopper
“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
“I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” – Pablo Picasso
“It takes a habit to replace a habit.” – Napoleon Hill
Here are some questions to get started. Answer them in as much detail as you can, and take as much time as necessary to make them clear and actionable:
What do you see as your major strengths?
What do you see as your areas for growth?
Which skills related to your leadership is it most important for you to develop?
In what ways can you apply your strengths to more areas of your work and life?
How can you strengthen the weaknesses you identified?
What resources do you need to strengthen these skills?
How will you know when you are successful?
All of these questions are equally important, and they’re not easy to answer. They take a great deal of time and reflection, and they require complete honesty and candor. You will also need to revisit them regularly, and ask as many people as you can to answer them for you as well – and be prepared and willing to hear their answers.
Also take the time to revisit the last question until you have a crystal-clear answer: we can’t get to where we’re going until we know exactly where it is we’re headed!